Obama against prosecuting journalists for doing their jobs
Washington: US President Barack Obama doesn`t believe that a reporter should be prosecuted for doing his or her job, a presidential spokesman said, but maintained that the Obama Administration can`t risk country`s security in the case of unauthorised leaks of classified information.
The Obama Administration is under fire after news reports appeared that the department of justice seized Associated Press phone records as part of a probe into leaks about a 2012 Yemen-based plot to bomb a US airliner.
"Speaking generally and not about a specific case, is that the President doesn`t believe that a reporter should be prosecuted for doing his or her job," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday.
Carney, a former journalist of international repute, had to face a tough time in view of the recent reports.
"As a reporter, I think I am, at the very least, more intimately aware of these issues than some folks who haven`t had that experience, reporting especially in Washington.
And I understand the President`s commitment to and passion for ensuring that there is a defence of the First Amendment and a defence of press freedom and a balance that allows the press to pursue investigative journalism freely," he said.
Conveying tough stance taken by the president against leaks of classified information, Carney said, "there are secrets, there is classified information that needs to be protected."
"Leaking of specific information that has to do with secret operations or other sensitive matters can harm our national security, can endanger the lives of American men and women."
"These are weighty and serious matters, and it is important to remember that the release of that information is a crime," he said.
Obama, he said, believes there is an important balance to be found, and thinks the questions about how that balance is being struck are entirely legitimate and he welcomes the public discussions.
Carney reiterated that "when classified information is leaked, that is a violation of the law".
"It is a serious matter, as we have seen in some cases.
"He (President) is a fierce defender of the First Amendment, of press freedom, and will continue to be," Carney said.
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